New Internationalist

The Tech Blog

Perceptions of Perl

Given the active conversation unfolding around the perceptions of Perl, I wanted to follow-up with what was originally part of my previous post on the Perl community’s multiple personality problem.

Though I feel strongly that the Perl community’s online visual identity (or lack of one) poses unnecessary friction or drag when trying to appeal to potential adopters, there are also some very positive currents in the Perl community to highlight.

Is the Perl community schizophrenic?

Recently, I’ve been reading with great interest about the future of Perl, and — more specifically — about how the "outside" sees Perl and how Perl might need a director of marketing. Frankly, and at the risk of rocking the boat, I’ll propose that Perl needs more than just a marketing director, or someone on the "outside" to do a survey; Put simply: Perl needs a creative agitator. (Or, perhaps more appropriately, a creative benevolent dictator.)

Though I’ve been using Perl on-and-off for more than ten years, I’m relatively new to the "Perl community." I’ve been involved with promoting free and open-source software since 1999 — writing articles, organizing events, and so on — and sometime in 2005, while interviewing the fine folks at Portland’s FreeGeek project, I was pulled back into the world of Perl.

At that time, my initial reaction was: Is the Perl community schizophrenic?

Ten things to love (or hate) about Bricolage. Part II.

Okay, here we go — because you’ve all been so anxious for it — the second part of the infamous "Ten things to love (or hate) about Bricolage."

In this week’s post I’ll focus on the things that, as a Bricolage implementer (which I’ll refer to here as a "developer," not to be confused with a Bricolage hacker), you might love (or hate) about Bricolage, the open-source enterprise-class content management system (CMS) that is used at New Internationalist.

I believe in Open. Can you help me promote it?

I passionately believe in Open, but I need your help to sell my case to the rest of the New Internationalist co-operative. You see, each year the co-op determines the subject of the next ten issues of the magazine at an annual general meeting, and they do it in a very co-op-y way, with lots of discussion, and consensus-building, and then — when that all fails — by direct democracy. Its a beautiful thing to watch.

Ten things to love (or hate) about Bricolage

Behinds the scenes at www.newint.org and blog.newint.org is a tireless workhorse — a system that just keeps giving and giving — and that system is Bricolage. Bricolage is the open-source enterprise-class content management system (CMS) that greatly simplifies the complex tasks of creating, managing, and publishing New Internationalist’s archive of content and media assets. 

As we embark on the redesign and redevelopment of New Internationalist online, after four years on our current platform, we will be retiring some systems and adding new ones — and, for another few years at least, Bricolage will continue to serve New Internationalist’s content management and online publishing needs. 

In the spirit of Cal Henderson’s “Why I hate Django,” James Walkah’s “Why I hate Drupal,” and Vince Veselosky’s “10 Things I Love/Hate About Movable Type,” and after so many years working with Bricolage, I thought it was only fair to write up some of the reasons I keep advocating for Bricolage, and some of the reasons I sigh in frustration from time to time. 

Internet freedom: For Iran, and for all.

#iranElection + Proxy

Internet freedom has become a critical component of functional democracies. Global events like the election in Iran highlight the important role that both Internet freedom and press freedom play in maintaining the balance of power between people and politics.

Joseph E. Stiglitz wrote in his book Globalization and its discontents :

“We have come to take it for granted the important role that an informed and free press has in reining in even our democratically elected governments: any mischief, any minor indiscretion, any favoritism, is subject to scrutiny, and public pressure works powerfully.”

And, should that book be published today, no doubt Stiglitz would note that “an informed and free press” is threatened in all countries, not just Iran, when Internet freedom is undermined.

Is "crowdsourcing" the new "design by committee"?

While asking for input on the New Internationalist redesign process the other day, one of my friends replied (in jest) “Is ‘crowdsourcing’ the new ‘design by committee’?”

It got me thinking about why I’m excited by open and transparent design processes, and how concepts like crowdsourcing are exactly the opposite of design by committee. (Well, sometimes.)

For me, the excitement stems from a passion for learning…

A top-down look at the redesign

Thanks to all of the excellent and constructive feedback so far, I am today working towards the New Internationalist pages that I am designing being feature complete and ready for sign-off next week. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you a top-down view of all of the pages that I have been working on.

Designing blog post pages

Today I want to share and invite your feedback on my work on the New Internationalist blog pages.

Designing New Internationalist magazine pages

Today I want to share and invite your feedback on my work on the New Internationalist magazine pages.

The New Internationalist home page challenge

Most often when I'm designing a new site, I focus first on its content pages. Then, working from the inside-out, I finally arrive at the home page. This is the approach that I've taken in my work for New Internationalist. That said, a site's home page is often what people want to see first, so who am I to disagree? Today I want to share and invite your feedback on my work on the NNew Internationalist home page. (Comments are open at For A Beautiful Web)

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